US senators urge Obama to expand dialogue with ROC



WASHINGTON — Fifty-two U.S. senators jointly wrote to U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday reaffirming the importance of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) in promoting U.S.-Taiwan ties and calling for expanded dialogue with Taipei.

The letter was spearheaded by Democrat Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican James Inhofe, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The purpose of the letter was to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the TRA, which was signed into law by then U.S. President Jimmy Carter on April 10, 1979 to provide an institutional framework and legal basis for the continuation of relations with Taiwan after the severance of diplomatic ties early that year.

“The 35th anniversary not only represents an important milestone in our longstanding relationship with Taiwan; it also consolidates the foundation on which our bilateral security, economic and trade relations will continue to grow and flourish and reassures our commitment to maintain peace and stability in the region,” the senators wrote in their letter.

“Helping Taiwan make further meaningful contributions in the region is in the interest of the United States and in line with the spirit of the TRA,” they wrote.

They noted that Taiwan aspires to greater integration into regional economic and trade mechanisms such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“Looking forward, as we commemorate the 35th anniversary of this landmark legislation, we hope you will continue to expand dialogue with Taiwan and join us in expressing our continued support for Taiwan’s democracy, freedom and economic prosperity,” the senators wrote.

The letter demonstrates bipartisan Senate support for Taiwan.

Senior Democrats who signed the letter include Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Ron Wyden, chairman of the Finance Committee, Mary L. Landrieu, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Tim Johnson, chairman of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, and Barbara Boxer, chairwoman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Among the Republican signatories are Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Grant Hatch, Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran, Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions, Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee Ranking Member James E. Risch, and Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Ranking Member John Thune.